Melanie Benjamin is looking forward to meeting readers in Alliance.
“That’s the best part of my job,” said Benjamin, the author of The Children’s Blizzard, the 2023 One Book One Community selection.
Benjamin will appear at Union Avenue United Methodist Church (1843 S. Union Ave.) on Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m. She anticipates a stimulating discussion about The Children’s Blizzard and her work.
“I hope that [the community] will enjoy a cozy evening chatting about this book and the writing process,” explained Benjamin. “I love to share how I choose the topics I write about, and why, and what I try to say in the finished product. I’m also happy to discuss any of my previous books, if people want to. And I’ll share my next book, which will be out in August.”
As far as The Children’s Blizzard is concerned, Benjamin said she was surprised to learn a few things while doing her research.
First, that there was an active propaganda campaign to bring immigrants over here, and that the propaganda was based on blatant lies.
“We didn’t learn about that in schoolbooks!” said Benjamin.
Second, how very young the schoolteachers were, often as young as 15 or 16.
“I knew that Laura from the Little House books boarded out as a schoolteacher while young but I didn’t realize how young,” added Benjamin.
And third, that in those very harsh years of the 1880s to early 1890s, more settlers on the Great Plains left than stayed.
Keeping all that in mind, Benjamin hopes The Children’s Blizzard is a thought-provoking novel for those who read it.
“I hope that while reading, people will be caught up in the story, of course, and also feel grateful for all the modern comforts we have that those in the 1880s didn’t,” explained Benjamin. “Primarily the ability to better predict the weather. And I hope that after reading, they will better understand that the great American myth of Manifest Destiny, of how we settled this land, is so much more complicated than most of us were taught in school. That it’s problematic, that it came at a cost — of course the biggest cost was to the Native Americans, but then, also, to those who were lured here under false pretenses.”
No registration is necessary to attend Benjamin’s visit, which will include a book signing at the conclusion of her remarks.